ON-Lion Letter
Freshman enrollment at four-year University of Wisconsin System campuses is up this Fall and, according to a September report from the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) in Milwaukee, will likely continue to climb in the years ahead.

But less than 30% of students who enter as freshmen graduate from the UW System institution at which they started within four years, according to Back to the Drawing Board:  How to Recreate the Outstate University and Finally Give Students Their Money's Worth.  Less than two-thirds graduate from any UW campus within six years of starting, based on tracking of freshmen who entered UW schools in 2006.

The report was researched and written by Ike Brannon and Philip Coyle.  Brannon is president of Capital Policy Analytics, a consulting firm in Washington, D.C., and a former member of the economics faculty at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  Coyle is a research associate at Capital Policy Analytics.

"If a talented, capable 18-year-old never finishes her degree, that's an enormous loss for the state and a personal tragedy for her," Brannon said.  "Unfortunately, that happens all the time in Wisconsin.  This paper looks at why, and how we might change things going forward."

"The four-year schools attract plenty of new students" said WPRI president Mike Nichols.  "The problem's not getting them in; it's getting them out.  There's been a lot of attention in recent days on an overall decrease in enrollment, but that's not due to a lack of freshmen, and it's not necessarily a bad thing if the schools are starting to move students through faster.  At any rate, there's plenty of evidence there's room for a lot of improvement in our four-year schools."

Among the problems, Brannon and Coyle find:  teaching loads for both tenured and tenure-track professors remain too low; spending on areas unrelated to instruction is too high.  They also note a traditional ambivalence at some campuses regarding the needs of local employers.

They recommend tying state funding to key campus metrics, such as attrition and graduation rates, ratios of students to administrators, and success of graduates.

Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation substantially supports WPRI.
Actions: E-mail | Permalink |